Property Management Platforms

14 Replies

Hi BP,

I am currently searching for a property management platform.  I currently only own 1 rental property but hoping to close on 2 Duplex's before the end of 2016.  I want to have all the systems in place before I begin to expand.  Good idea to go ahead and get this platform set up?

Also, which do you prefer: Buildium? Appfolio?

Thanks in advance!

I'd suggest taking a good number of hours to research both, and possibly some others. I use Buildium myself to manage 18 units now and it works good for me. It's simple to deploy and simple to use and offers good value in my opinion.

One thing that I did notice is that, not surprisingly, it is oriented towards Property Managers. (Duh right?) However this does mean that some of the investor oriented capabilities are not very developed. No quick and easy way baked in way to calculate cash-on-cash-returns, CAP rates etc. As long as you are under 40 units the cost is about $40 per month after that its tiered and still costs about $1 per unit per month. For me it was a worthwhile investment. Note; I would not recommend making lowest price your primary decision driver. Its just a cost of doing business so buy what works best for you.

Looking back on it I should have looked into App Folio and possibly some others (Rentech?) more to fully understand the differences. I kind of jumped into it myself:).

Do realize this: whatever you choose, you are going to build your systems around it and store all your data in it. So once you pick one, the "cost" (disruption/headache) of moving to something else will be very significant...

Hope this helps?

Do you have plans to extend past the 2 duplexes you're getting soon? I have 4 doors and am happy managing things with excel tracking for now to save on software costs. Once I grow I'll def. get a system but I just don't find it necessary yet.

I can't speak to Buildium, but I have experience using AppFolio and would highly recommend it. With a very use-friendly interface and most all aspects of management covered, it is a great tool for any level of manager. 

It is really a one stop shop for all things management. Depending on the scale at which you plan to implement the software, I do recommend for large 3rd party solutions, supplementing some of the current software short-comings such as inspections, and maintenance asset tracking. For inspections, a great substitute would be Happy Inspector - a very thorough and customized inspection reporting software. For maintenance team management, FieldAware allows technicians schedules to be prioritized and easily tracked with job "Start", "Pause", and "Completed" status reporting, and mobile GPS tracking.

Currently, I use MRI X which seems to be specialized for apartment and community manage and allows for a lot of back-end modifications. We have a employee designated to the software, so I would not recommend it unless you plan to use it on a large (100+ units per location) scale.

Property management software is essential for maximizing efficiency and you can't go wrong with either.

If you have any questions about the applications mentioned above, please don't hesitate to message me.

Hi @Wade Williams , @David Light , @Chris V.

Thank you all for the very helpful responses.  To answer a few questions.  I am trying to respond but the main purpose for getting the platform for only having 1-5 units is because the 2 Duplex units will be out of state.  My mother will be managing them, but I am trying to find the easiest and most efficient way to manage these.  I will be conducting research, as I am probably to thorough sometimes.

Thanks again for the help and any other advice is greatly appreciated.

Does anyone know if any these platforms will allow you to link form your own website? 

@Account Closed I'm not as familiar with Buildium but AppFolio does.

Hi @Cassidy Burns :

Its important to keep in mind that this software does not just doe the "management" (rent payments, service tickets etc.), it also does your accounting, allows you to take rent payments online from tenants, allows you to pay your vendors online, does your reporting etc.

Even if you have only 5 units I think that is well worth it. You can setup your mom or any other parties (CPA etc) with their long customized log in, that allows them to do/see what they need to do/see. That's one of the nice things about cloud based software. Having rental units is a business and its worth treating it as a business I think. Also by streamlining it from the start you will be better positioned to grow as new opportunities come up. Whichever one you decide on I highly recommend not getting stuck in a quickbooks/XL hell :). Good luck making your decision.

@Cassidy Burns - both Appfolio and Buildium are probably going to be far too expensive for that size portfolio.  You might look at Rentec Direct, or one of the free alternatives to keep your costs down.  Not many landlords with a handful of units want to blow $150+/month on management software.  Honestly, Rentec Direct is just as good with a much better price tag and you can link from your own website.

I'm a Buildium fan, have been using it for a year on one and two family properties. The tenant interface is great, and they offer integrated tenant screening. It's pretty affordable too... I think about $40/month for up to 40 units.

@KK A.   Thank you very much.

@Jason Hartley Thank Jason for looking out for us "little guys"....

@Cassidy Burns I agree with the advice to research free PM software first. The race is currently on between software companies offering professional services to individual landlords for free. I am confident that you can find something that works perfectly for you free.

(Full disclosure: I work for one of those companies but we are not the only option on the market.)

Thank you everyone for the great advice.  I am going to report back following research on which platform I decided to go with!

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